Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Environmentalists are urging the USDA to reject this genetically engineered eucalyptus tree

A genetically engineered, freeze-tolerant eucalyptus tree is moving closer to receiving approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, amid concerns about the tree’s possible negative effects on the environment. The USDA has proposed lifting restrictions on commercial production of the trees, based on a draft environmental impact statement that concluded the trees pose few significant environmental risks. Planting the trees would “either not differ or may be slightly worse from those caused by the cultivation of planted plantation pine,” the report said. Brazil approved a genetically modified eucalyptus, created by biotechnology company FuturaGene, for commercial growth two years ago. But this would become the first genetically engineered tree approved for commercial use in the United States. The USDA has projected in its environmental impact statement that about a million acres of pine plantations could be replaced with the eucalyptus trees, if it wins approval. But environmental groups say the tree uses excessive amounts of water, increases wildfire risks, and could turn into an invasive species...more

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter how many comments one gets in favor or opposed to an action in a environmental impact statement. It is not a referendum on the issue. Comments only count if they are substantive, like raising a question of fact or assumption in the analysis. We conflagrate ignorant people's feelings solicited through social media campaigns with scientific fact. But, someone has to read each comment, no matter how inane they are.

Technically, the eucalyptus in southern California is an introduced not an invasive species. It was planted along the Southern Pacific Rail Road line as a source of fuel and raw material. It did go kind of crazy over the next 150 years. I can understand the concern the environmentalists have with invasive species. I can't image the broadleaf pine plantations of Alabama, Georgia, and Northwest Florida being changed over to eucalyptus. Envision hordes of koalas and Outback Steak Houses invading the habitat of armadillo and nutria. But then they were introduced as well, so I guess it would all be the same.